Russian opposition leader under house arrest for 2 months

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MOSCOW -- Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was put under house arrest for two months Friday and was prohibited from using the Internet, texting or speaking with anyone but his family.

A Moscow court imposed the two months of silence on Mr. Navalny, who has used his blog and Twitter account to document and publicize his investigations into official corruption, after investigators accused him of violating an order to stay within the Moscow city limits.

The communication blackout would prevent him from keeping up his work, and human rights activists criticized the decision.

"It's persecution for dissent and expression of a person's ideas, persecution for convictions and freedom of speech," Lyudmila Alexeyeva, head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, told the Interfax news agency.

Mr. Navalny, 37, has been bombarded with one criminal charge after another since he emerged as a charismatic protest movement leader more than two years ago. He had been under travel curbs after he was accused of defrauding the Yves Rocher cosmetics firm. Investigators said he and his brother, Oleg Navalny, had set up a delivery company, which charged the cosmetics firm too much for its services.

Investigators asked for the house arrest because they said Mr. Navalny had strayed into the Moscow suburbs, although he argued that he was permitted to travel there.

His most recent corruption target has been the Sochi Winter Olympics, which he said were used to funnel large sums of money to allies of President Vladimir Putin.


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